Did you know there are some common plumbing and drain issues you can avoid depending on the time of year? Choose a season below to get prepared.
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Fall/Winter Preperations & Tips
Chilly fall temperatures serve as a polite reminder that when winter arrives it can be sudden, often leaving homeowners unprepared for the troubles associated with extreme cold. A few simple preparations now will help prevent headaches and costly repairs throughout the winter months.
- Plumbing and Sewer
- Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected, water in the hoses can freeze and expand causing faucets and connecting pipes inside your home to freeze and break.
- Make sure outside faucets aren't dripping or leaking. Make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before freezing temperatures arrive. Be aware that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds causing cracks - no matter if the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can unleash more than 250 gallons of water in a single day.
- If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from lines.
- Cover outside faucets using a faucet insulation kit available at home centers.
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.
- Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.
- Your water heater works harder during winter months. Flush it out and remove sediment buildup, which causes corrosion, shortens life span and reduces heating efficiency. Drain several gallons from the faucet near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain.
- Carefully test the water heater's pressure relief valve (Danger: water is very hot) by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back. The valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drainpipe. If not, call a professional to have a new valve installed.
- Check the temperature setting on your water heater's thermostat. Set at 120°F for optimum performance.
- Clear leaves and debris from outside downspouts to ensure easy drainage when water freezes and thaws throughout the winter season.
- Inspect and clean sump pump and pit. Pumps exposed to extreme cold can freeze, preventing the pump from operating.
- When leaving home for extended periods, shut off the main water valve and drain the system by opening faucets at the highest and lowest points of the house. Make sure the heat is left on and set no lower than 55°F.
- Caution! These tips are intended for homes that will be inhabited throughout the winter months. Many additional steps should be taken to winterize vacation properties that will be abandoned or left unattended for weeks or months at a time. Seek professional help for winterizing such properties
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Spring/Summer Preperations & Tips
April showers bring May flowers and the onset of spring, which means it's time for "spring cleaning." Discount Plumbing offers these maintenance tips to protect your home against plumbing problems.
- Plumbing and Sewer
- Check faucets for drips or leaks. Make repairs to save water.
- Ensure that all drains have strainers to prevent hair, soap and debris from clogging the drain lines.
- Check toilets for hidden leaks. Add six drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes.
- Inspect tank and bowl for cracks or leaks.
- Exercise water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent them from sticking.
- Make sure toilets flush properly. If the handle must be held down for a thorough flush or jiggled to stop the water from running you may need to replace worn tank parts. They're inexpensive and you'll notice a lower water bill.
- Clean mineral deposits from showerhead. Unscrew it and soak in vinegar or fill a plastic baggie with vinegar; place it over the showerhead and hold in place with a rubber band. Soak overnight then remove and gently scrub with an old toothbrush to remove deposits.
- Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should be set no higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy use.
- Carefully drain several gallons from the water heater tank to flush out corrosion causing sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and shortens the life of the heater.
- Consider replacing a water heater more than 15 years old. (The first four numbers of the serial number represent the month and year it was made.) Newer water heaters are more energy efficient.
- Make sure flammables are not stored near the water heater or furnace.
- Check dishwasher, washing machine and icemaker supply hoses for bulges or leaks. Replace hoses showing signs of weakness or older than ten years.
- Clean out washing machine lint trap, if equipped, and place a wire trap or a piece of pantyhose over the end of the hose that drains the washer.
- Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor drains) to fill the trap and prevent odors from entering the house. Slow floor drains should be snaked to ensure they will carry away water quickly in the event of a flood.
- Check exposed pipes under sinks and in the basement for signs of leaks.
- If your home has a sump pump, make sure it operates properly by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should quickly turn on, discharge the water then shut off without any problems.
- Install a backflow valve in the floor drain if you live in an area where sewers sometimes back up into homes. This device will prevent future backups.
- Inspect for slow leaks in your home by taking a reading on your water meter before bedtime. The next morning, without using any water overnight, take another reading. If the reading has changed you have a leak that should be repaired.
- Install flood alarms. Like a smoke alarm, a flood alarm is a battery-operated device that sounds an alarm when it comes in contact with water. It alerts you to potential flooding or leaks.
- Make sure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are cleaned out, open, and free of debris.
- Check for bird nests in plumbing vent pipes.
- Check faucets and hose bibs to make sure water flows freely. If an outdoor faucet drips or if there is leakage inside your home the first time the hose is turned on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced.